Film, Reviews

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Non-Stop

26 Feb 20142 stars

Liam Neeson and director Jaume Collet-Serra reunite for a tense but predictable in-flight thriller

Non-Stop sees a reunion of Liam Neeson and Spanish director Jaume Collet-Serra, who previously worked together on 2011’s mistaken identity thriller Unknown. The pair obviously like each other, as Neeson is once again prepared to peddle that grizzled…

The Rocket

26 Feb 20144 stars

A Laos-set coming-of-age fable driven by naturalistic performances

From The Raid to Metro Manila, it seems the fashion right now to see English-speaking directors head over to Asia to make films. But while the aforementioned were both thrillers, The Rocket is a very different proposition. Set in Laos, it’s a…

Grand Central

25 Feb 20144 stars

Tense drama about workers at a nuclear power plant starring Tahar Rahim

Tahar Rahim made a memorable lead for Jacques Audiard in prison thriller A Prophet, and turns in another good performance in Rebecca Zlotowski's Grand Central, a film about workers in a nuclear plant near the Rhone. Rahim plays Gary Manda, a tough…

The Grand Budapest Hotel

25 Feb 20145 stars

A perfectly realised caper from the high priest of whimsy

A fusion of imagination, hilarity and ramshackle adventure, The Grand Budapest Hotel is the latest from the high priest of whimsy. Wes Anderson's eighth film dazzles and delights as if it has been liberated from the pages of a beautifully illustrated…

A New York Winter’s Tale

24 Feb 20142 stars

Colin Farrell and Russell Crowe star in a fantasy-romance overburdened with mawkish sentimentality

Akiva Goldsman, the Oscar-winning screenwriter of A Beautiful Mind, makes his keenly anticipated directorial debut with an adaptation he also penned of Mark Helprin’s popular fantasy novel but for all of its lofty ambitions, A New York Winter’s Tale…

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Mood Indigo

24 Feb 20142 stars

Michel Gondry's latest effort is a chaotic mess overflowing with unexplained ideas

Adapted from a novel by French writer Boris Vian, Michel Gondry's return to France after the bloated Hollywood excess of The Green Hornet is a bittersweet love story overburdened by directorial tricks. There's a delicate romance buried within, but…

The Strange Colour of Your Body's Tears

24 Feb 20143 stars

A maximalist, bewildering giallo horror in the vein of Dario Argento

A maximalist, bewildering horror in the overflowing vein of Dario Argento, The Strange Colour of Your Body's Tears is part of Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani's determined attempt to pump new blood into the giallo genre (following 2009's Amer and the…

The House of Him

24 Feb 20143 stars

Rob Florence's ultra-low budget horror is an intriguing treatment of gender and violence in cinema

When considering the term 'low budget' in filmmaking, it's often worth remembering that the term is relative to the industry – even lo-fi legend The Blair Witch Project cost at least $20,000, which is still a trifle more than most of us have down the…

Salvo

24 Feb 20143 stars

A slow-burning mafia crime drama in homage to Le Samourai

A slow-burning homage to Jean-Pierre Melville's Le Samouraï, Salvo uses the familiar trope of a stone-cold killer (Saleh Bakri) who falls for a female character connected to one of his victims. This time round it's blind woman Rita (Sara Serraiocco)…

LFO

24 Feb 20143 stars

Lo-fi black comedy about a trance-inducing sound engineer

Maladjusted sound technician Robert (Patrik Karlson) has stumbled upon an amazing discovery: a sound frequency which immediately puts the listener into a hypnotic trance, susceptible to any suggestion they might hear. Armed with speakers, a pair of…

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Phantom of the Paradise

24 Feb 20143 stars

Brian de Palma's cult musical has eccentric plotting, weird characters and a rocking soundtrack

As teenagers, Daft Punk were apparently massive fans of Brian De Palma's gaudy alternative musical, a schlocky mix of Faust, The Picture of Dorian Gray, Frankenstein and, of course, The Phantom of the Opera (it's worth noting that this pre-dates Andrew…

Dead of Night

24 Feb 20145 stars

The 1945 Ealing portmanteau horror is by turns eerie, funny, macabre and utterly chilling

One of the finest horror films ever made and one of the best British films of all time? Grand claims, but this 1945 portmanteau film (here restored for re-release) produced by Ealing Studios and featuring some of their most talented regulars stands the…

The Zero Theorem

14 Feb 20143 stars

Terry Gilliam's latest is a tale of love and loneliness that sadly fails to touch the heart

Existential equations are the at first pleasingly perplexing order of the day in the third part of Terry Gilliam's dystopian trilogy, following 1985's Brazil and 1995's 12 Monkeys. Set in the near-future and boasting an eclectic international cast, The…

Stalingrad

14 Feb 20143 stars

A well-played and vivid war story that misses the point of the titular battle

Russia’s entry to the 2014 Oscar race, and a big hit in the homeland, Stalingrad is a World War II epic less concerned with history than with a smaller, more personal story; five Russian soldiers caught up in the siege take collective responsibility for…

Under the Skin

14 Feb 20145 stars

Jonathan Glazer's Michel Faber adap is a genuinely unique, full-on sensory experience

It has been ten years since British director Jonathan Glazer’s last film – the understated, enigmatic Birth – and for much of that time he has been working away at this adaptation of Michel Faber’s cult novel. It has been time well spent, as Under the…

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Wake in Fright

14 Feb 20144 stars

A fearsome treatment of Australian cultural identity, masculinity and violence

A fearsome treatment of Australian cultural identity, masculinity and violence, long unseen even in its native land due to the unavailability of a usable print, Wake in Fright has met with renewed praise since being restored from rediscovered negatives…

Stranger by the Lake

14 Feb 20144 stars

Alain Guiraudie's gay cruising thriller is an unusual and intelligent film

A mixed-up tone is customarily a negative trait in a film, but here the combination of gentle comedy, racy sex and murder works extraordinarily well, delivering a sophisticated, unpredictable and original modern noir. Pierre Deladonchamps plays Franck…

Nymphomaniac Volumes I & II

14 Feb 20144 stars

Von Trier's latest is a multi-faceted exploration of sexuality, in all its bizarre, twisted glory

His first film since Melancholia, Lars von Trier’s two-part erotic odyssey is undoubtedly the most anticipated arthouse event of 2014. While the promised five and a half hour ‘hardcore’ version has yet to be released – and may never reach the UK – this…

Only Lovers Left Alive

14 Feb 20144 stars

Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston star in Jim Jarmusch's anti-vampire, vampire film

Jim Jarmusch has made a career out of subverting the norms of genre filmmaking – indeed, his work is a genre unto itself. After the divisive The Limits of Control, his latest film (which is best described as an anti-vampire vampire film) signals a…

The Lego Movie

11 Feb 20143 stars

A genuinely funny film from the makers of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs

Fast, funny and created with loving attention to detail, The Lego Movie will delight anyone who has ever played with those universally-recognised little yellow figures. Beginning at a blistering pace that never lets up, the film (from Cloudy With A…

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Love is in the Air

11 Feb 20143 stars

A fluffy French twist on a typical high concept Hollywood romantic comedy

True romance is marked by missed opportunities and second chances in Love is in the Air, a slick, fluffy French confection that slides down as easily as an extra helping of tarte tatin accompanied by a dollop of creme chantilly. It is a very French…

The Monuments Men

11 Feb 20142 stars

George Clooney's WWII art heist movie is a monument to bad filmmaking

Ocean’s Eleven does The Dirty Dozen sounds like a fun movie, right? And this George Clooney-directed WWII comedy-drama tries, all too hard, to deliver on that very idea. But even low expectations won’t help you here, with a story that’s neither amusing…

Endless Love

11 Feb 20142 stars

A by-the-numbers love story starring Alex Pettyfer and Gabriella Wilde

Franco Zeffirelli's original 1981 film Endless Love (itself based on Scott Spencer's 1979 novel) was notable for featuring a very young Tom Cruise in a minor role as an arsonist. Shana Feste's remake, however, struggles to be notable for anything at…

The Book Thief

10 Feb 20143 stars

Brian Percival's moving and well-acted WWII adaptation let down by hurried plotting

Brian Percival’s adaptation of Markus Zusak’s global best-seller The Book Thief is, like Mark Herman's take on John Boyne’s The Boy In The Striped Pajamas, a film that unfolds from the German perspective during World War II. Unlike that film, however…

RoboCop

7 Feb 20143 stars

A slick but sanitised remake

Following Total Recall and the most recent entries in the Die Hard and Terminator franchises, RoboCop becomes the latest violent action film to get a family friendly, pimped-up makeover. José Padilha's film has contemporary resonance and is different…